No. 1 Florida State (14-0-1, 9-0-1 ACC) defeated NC State (3-9-6, 2-5-3 ACC) by a 5-0 score tonight at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
In the 13th minute Florida State generated the first good chance of the game. Leilanni Nesbeth drove the ball into the attacking third. Nesbeth slotted a nice ball for Jody Brown who was making a run into the box. Brown one-timed a dangerous cross into the six. Kaitlyn Zipay crashed down and sent a tough bouncing header toward goal. However, Wolfpack keeper Olivia Pratapas came through with the sparkling diving save to keep the Seminoles off the scoreboard (for now).
In the 30th minute the Pack generated their first chance. The Wolves earned a corner kick. Emika Kawagishi stepped up to take it. Kawagishi sent in a dangerous out swinger. Annika Wohner got up to pound a tough header toward goal. Taylor Huff blocked it but the ball caromed straight to Taylor Chism who kept the clearance in the box. Chism laid the ball back to Jade Bordeleau who was lurking just inside the box. Bordeleau took a touch and then fired a screamer for goal that clanged off the crossbar.
In the 40th minute Nesbeth found Peyton Nourse posting up in the attacking third. Nourse turned and played the ball in for Olivia Garcia who was making a run in the box. Garcia’s cross was deflected by Brianna Weber but the ball went straight to Nourse who uncorked a strike headed for the upper 90. However, Pratapas was up to the challenge getting her hand up to deflect the ball away for the impressive save.
In the 41st minute Maggie Taitano knocked the ball way from Alexis Strickland. Olivia Garcia pounced on it. Garcia worked her way into the box before firing a shot ticketed for the lower left corner of the goal but Pratapas got down to just barely tip the ball away for another save.
In the 44th minute the Noles finally cracked the scoreboard. FSU earned a corner kick. Huff stepped up to take it. Huff sent a dangerous ball into the six and Pratapas punched it away. Florida State kept it in the attacking third. Sophia Nguyen eventually sent a nice cross into the box. The ball bounced around in the mixer until Lauren Flynn pounced on it and slammed it into the back of the net with a left footed strike.
In the 49th minute the Seminoles added another. Again it came off a corner. Huff sent a low driving ball toward the box. It was flicked on by Zipay. It bounced around in the mixer before Flynn knocked a left footed shot by Pratapas who was unsighted and couldn’t react to the shot fast enough.
In the 50th minute the Noles kept up the pressure. Zipay received the ball just outside the box. She put a move on the defense to find space before firing a low hard drive for the corner of the goal with enough velocity that it snuck by a diving Pratapas for the third goal.
Flynn wasn’t done. In the 54th minute Fernanda Soto was called for taking down Leah Pais from behind. Huff took the free kick and lofted a gorgeous ball into the box. Flynn was perfectly positioned and she executed a lethal header that flew past Pratapas into the back of the net.
Florida State wasn’t done yet. This time Flynn let someone else score. Nguyen drove the ball toward the endline before sending a cross into the box. Garcia was there to slam a header past a diving Pratapas to provide the fifth and final goal of the night to seal a 5-0 victory for the Seminoles.
Florida State had 26 shots (11 on goal) while NC State had five shots (one on goal).
The Seminoles enjoyed 65% of the possession to 35% for the Pack.
Florida State now has 28 points in the ACC so the Seminoles have clinched their sixth ACC regular season championship (2009, 2012, 2014, 2020, 2022, 2023). The Noles will now shoot for their 10th ACC Tournament title (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021, 2022).
FSU has scored 36 goals in ACC play this year which puts the Noles in second all-time behind UNC which scored 37 in 2007.
Jordynn Dudley missed the game as the staff kept her out to give her more time to recover from the lower extremity injury that she suffered against Duke. I was told that Dudley is “trending upward” but it is still uncertain whether she will be fit to play in the ACC Tournament.
Tonight was the last home game of the regular season thus it was Senior Night. Jody Brown, Onyi Echegini, Lily Farkas, Lauren Flynn, Ran Iwai, Leilanni Nesbeth, Beata Olsson, Leah Pais, Cristina Roque and Kaitlyn Zipay are the seniors. Echegini, Farkas, Nesbeth and Pais have all exhausted their eligibility while the other six players can still use their COVID year if they choose.
We have to begin by giving senior Lauren Flynn her flowers. The defender earned the hat trick and that is an appropriate reward for a player that has captained the defense all year and has been very important in the back line in front of Cristina Roque.
I don’t know whether Olivia Garcia’s rendition of the National Anthem or her goal was more beautiful (I’ll go with her singing performance) but they were both great.
Kaitlyn Zipay showed her quality with a well taken strike that she had to earn by putting moves on the defenders to earn space.
It’s fair to ask how much we can take from this game as the Pack was basically just playing out the string. This was their last game of the season as they won’t make a postseason appearance. NC State was missing their best striker (Jameese Joseph) and were forced to defend almost all game.
However, there are some things to take away. FSU has so much attacking talent that it is very hard to keep everyone down. Florida State scored five goals tonight and none of them were scored by any of the top five goal scorers entering the game.
It was also good to see the Noles be so dangerous on set-pieces. Three of the five goals were from set-pieces.
Again, FSU exploded in the second half. When asked why the Noles are so good in the second half head coach Brian Pensky remarked, “We try to stress the backline a bit more and fatigue them”. Pensky added, “I think teams can deal with us to some degree for 45 minutes but I think to do it for 60, 75, 90 is a whole another thing.... I think the totality is that we just keep coming at them and we don’t have just one or two players that are the key to our attack”. Finally, the coach said “I think the other piece and you saw it from our second goal tonight, we get a lot of energy from success.”
Whatever the reason Florida State has had the winning formula all year. Now the real season begins as the Seminoles will try to add a fourth star to their jerseys.
Florida State will play in the ACC Tournament semifinal in Cary, NC. As the top seed the Seminoles have earned a bye into the semifinal round. Florida State will play the winner of the North Carolina v. Pittsburgh first round game. The Noles will play on November 2nd.